by James H. “Smokey” Shott
With the chaos of the 2020 presidential election, much of it due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something desperately needs to be done to stabilize and secure election procedures.
Under the direction of the U.S. Constitution, state legislatures have the duty and authority to establish how elections are handled in their state. Consequently, there are lots of variations in election processes.
Responding to this chaos, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have created legislation to fix this. Titled H.R. 1 in the House, and S. 1 in the Senate, the “For the People Act of 2021,” this legislation is designed “To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes,” according to the introduction to the bill.
That description certainly identifies some good and needed improvements. And while drastic action is called for to repair the heavily damaged election process in many of the states, two organizations have published reasons why they believe the “For the People Act of 2021” is seriously flawed, unworthy of passage, and even dangerous.
AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, “is centered on American values, freedom of the individual, free speech, and exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, rule of law, and love of family,” it’s website states. “This legislation – 791 pages – is a monstrous federal takeover of elections and an assault on the First Amendment. AMAC is working to block this bill from ever becoming law.”
The other organization is Heritage Action, a component of The Heritage Foundation. Heritage Action states that the “For the People Act of 2021” “is full of unconstitutional and unnecessary policies that liberals want to use to further hijack America’s election processes. It is ANYTHING but ‘for the people.’”
Yes, these two organizations are conservative in nature. And some find that fact enough to ignore anything and everything associated with them. But an objective analysis of H.R. 1/S. 1 shows many significant problems.
Heritage Action cites three major problems with the bill:
“1. It forces taxpayers to finance political campaigns. If it passes, you’d be paying for the campaigns of self-professed socialists like Bernie Sanders and AOC. To add insult to injury, H.R. 1 will also allow politicians to double dip and take a second salary from their campaigns.
“2. It eliminates the ability of states to control their own elections. H.R. 1 forces states to enact same-day voter registration, automatically register voters, implement online voter registration, allow voters to cast ballots outside of their precinct, keep ineligible voters on voter rolls in perpetuity, register voters without verifying eligibility, and allow people to vote without showing any identification.
“3. It undermines our 1st Amendment rights. H.R. 1 unconstitutionally increases government censorship over political campaigns, activity, and speech. Using a very vague standard, the bill regulates any speech that is deemed to impact an election (which is almost anything).
“H.R. 1 would also force political nonprofits to publicly disclose donors, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t about transparency. This is about making it easier for the militant Left to dox conservatives, threaten their families, and get them fired from their jobs.”
The government of the United States of America is a federal system. In such a system, much power and authority are not held in a central government, but are retained by the individual states. Remember, it was through the agreement of the states that the nation was created.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This is a fundamental element in our nation’s creation, and is part of the Bill of Rights.
Much of what H.R. 1/S. 1 proposes would transfer some authority now held by the states to the federal government, against the design of the nation, and the 10th Amendment
Further, the items in point 2 of the Heritage Action objections would open voter registration, voter eligibility and voter identification to massive fraud, and make it possible for thousands of ineligible people to cast ballots, or to cast ballots in places other than where they may legally do so, or even in more than one place.
In many instances, this bill will legalize many of the questionable and illegal goings-on of the past election, where at least four states changed election procedures, ignoring the Constitutional mandate to make changes through the state legislature.
The weakening of the voter registration process and other elements of voting are preposterous. Their lack of secure requirements invites voter fraud. These same weaknesses were present in several states in the 2020 election.
Proof of identity — not the mere say-so of a person — and proof of eligibility must be provided at voter registration, when requesting absentee ballots or voting by mail, and when showing up at polling places. No exceptions!
Additional censoring of political speech is an outright contravention of the First Amendment.
The “For the People Act of 2021” is a disaster waiting to be unleashed.
James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
reprinted with permission from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.